By the time the Ford Mustang made its sensational debut in 1964, Carroll Shelby was well-established within the Ford Motor Company hierarchy. Ford actively pursued all forms of motorsport, from the grassroots to the world stage, and Shelby was their man to get the job done. The Shelby American Racing Team had success with the Cobra and was poised to win the hotly contested FIA GT World Championship in 1965 with their mighty Daytona Coupe. With the popularity of production-class road racing spreading like wildfire in America, Ford saw the Mustang as the ideal platform to capitalize on their success.
Starting with the already exceptional K-Code fastback, Carroll Shelby and his team at Shelby American transformed the Mustang into the white-hot GT350 by fitting comprehensive suspension upgrades, more powerful brakes, boosting the Hi-Po V8 from 270 to 306 horsepower, and adding race-ready parts like snarling side-exit exhaust, a fiberglass hood, and much more. With these carefully selected modifications, Shelby transformed the style-conscious Mustang into a world-class sports car capable of fending off the Sunbeam Tiger, Jaguar E-Type, and Chevrolet Corvette. The 1965 GT350 was a pure homologation special which serious racers could run virtually ‘off the shelf.’ Shelby’s efforts paid off immediately with a sweep of the 1965 SCCA B/Production National Championship, ending Chevrolet’s 7-year dominance of the class.
This highly desirable 1965 GT350, chassis number SFM 5S205, is one of just 562 1965 models built. Shelby American Auto Club records show it was received by Shelby American on March 20, 1965, with work commencing on April 29, 1965, and a completion date of May 7. Production notes show the driveshaft was defective upon arrival at Shelby American, and about a month later, Shelby American also determined that the transmission had a faulty shift fork. Shelby proceeded to install a new gearbox and invoiced Ford $146 for the warranty work. Upon completion, the GT350 was retained by the factory for public relations purposes, including demonstrations. Once promotional duties were done, Shelby shipped the car to Hi-Performance Motors in Los Angeles, California, on September 17, 1965.
While the original owner’s name is not known, it is understood that this GT350 remained in California for much of its life. In 1971 5S205 was in the hands of Don Burke of Northridge, CA, who campaigned the car in SCCA Solo I and autocross events. In 1980, Stephen Connor of Simi Valley, California acquired it and used it as-intended at track events at Willow Springs, Riverside, Ontario, and Laguna Seca for the ensuing decade. In 1991, New Life Shelby & Mustang restored the GT350, and it went on to win second place in the SAAC-17 concours in Portland in July 1992. It was offered for sale through Hemmings Motor News in October 2015 and purchased in early 2016. The owner entrusted the respected marque experts at Cobra Automotive of Wallingford, Connecticut, to perform the highly detailed, concours-quality restoration.
As offered here, this exquisite GT350 is beautifully presented in the traditional Wimbledon White with Blue LeMans stripes. Fittings include a driver’s-side Talbot mirror, and it rolls on Shelby Cragar wheels wrapped in period-correct Goodyear “blue dot” tires. Paint quality and finish levels are superb, with particular attention paid to replicating the factory imperfections like overspray from the stripes and masking lines – details only a highly experienced restorer knows to apply. Body fit is excellent, with near-perfect alignment of the doors and crisply defined feature lines.
Climbing aboard, the cockpit is familiar to any Mustang enthusiast, with a few notable exceptions. Shelby ditched the rear seats in favor of a lightweight fiberglass panel to qualify the car for B/Production racing. Shelby also relocated the spare wheel to the cargo area and the battery to the trunk for balanced weight distribution. This car features correct bucket seats, 3-inch lap belts, the ’65-only wood-rimmed steering wheel, and has options including a pushbutton radio and Shelby gauge pod with tachometer and oil pressure gauge. Like the body, the interior is faithfully restored to original specs using correct materials and techniques.
This Shelby is powered by the original, numbers-matching K-code 289 cu. in. V-8, as confirmed by marque experts. The engine is backed by a four-speed manual transmission, feeding a limited-slip rear axle. Concours quality detailing continues under the fiberglass hood, with excellent paint finishes, chrome, and faithfully reproduced labels, decals, and markings. Likewise, the undercarriage is correctly finished in red oxide primer and fully detailed. Included in the sale are receipts from Cobra Automotive, previous ownership documents, photos from the 1990s restoration, and service/maintenance records dating back to the 1980s.
Since its debut more than 55 years ago, the GT350 remains a dramatic and visceral driving experience. There is nothing subtle about the car; it is designed to go fast, make noise, handle well, and turn heads. While chassis SFM 5S205 is undoubtedly immaculate, it is certainly no exception to this long-established rule, and it will make the ideal entrant into a variety of vintage rallies, concours, and motoring events worldwide.
Offers welcome and trades considered